The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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‘More people should be encouraged to take up first aid training’ - St John Rescue Corps Commissioner

Kevin Schembri Orland Saturday, 30 September 2017, 08:54 Last update: about 6 years ago

More people should be encouraged to take up first aid training, Commissioner of the St John Rescue Corps Andrew Grech told The Malta Independent.

"There's a lot of interest in first aid, as people keep coming for first aid training. But it's always positive to have a push for this and ensure there are first aiders in different places."

He explained that if one finds himself or herself in a situation where first aid is required, and the person doesn't know what to do, then that could worsen the situation, but could be useful in emergency situations if they are trained.

The PN recently presented a Private Members Bill proposing the introduction of the internationally recognized Good Samaritan Legislation, which the PN hopes would protect good Samaritans.

The PN had explained that people sometimes hold back from assisting persons in need of medical help for fear of doing more harm than good, with the possibility of ending up in court, despite their noble intentions.

PN MP Claudio Grech had explained that the aim of the new legislation would be to protect people who help others against civil and criminal prosecution. However it would not exonerate people who harm others through negligence.

Andrew Grech was asked for the Corps opinion on this Bill. "It is positive that such proposals are being considered, however we still need to discuss this internally and we are still gathering information about it, to see the effects. We have to see how it would be implemented and the final effects before saying whether the proposal is good or not."

He explained that he the PN had invited the St John Rescue Corps to a meeting and the proposal, and reasons for it, was explained to them.

"I would imagine that this kind of proposal does not only affect first aiders, but also doctors and nurses who might be off duty, he said. "If you are unconscious, you cannot ask for a signature authorising an intervention, so professionals sometimes might have the fear of intervening without authorisation."

During the launch of the Private Members Bill, PN MP Therese Comodini Cachia said the proposed law would strengthen civil commitment and protect those who do not turn away from people who need their help. As an example she mentioned teachers who might be required to assist injured students. These people should be rewarded, rather than placed under legal pressure, she said. The law would protect those who help people in need.

The Malta Independent spoke to Malta Union of Teachers president Marco Bonnici, who said that, while the union is still discussing the proposal, and as such does not have a position yet, the principle of protecting first aiders is always good.

He explained that a few years ago, there was never an official first aider post, and the role was taken over by anyone who had first aid training. "But these people were not covered. People feared this since the repercussions are substantial." Cases of parents sending legal letters etc were not unheard of, he said.

"A few years ago we introduced the concept of a health and safety rep in schools, which worked and which didn't work at the same time. The post came about due to certain requirements which weren't covered, such as students with severe allergies, or those who need EpiPens."

"Between us and the Department there is documentation regarding coverage, but if the individual is taken to court we need to ensure the person is safeguarded."

Currently, he said, the arrangement that was meant to be put in place was that there be two first aiders in each school, who would be at teaching grade (could be teachers, LSAs etc.). "An allowance was tied to this and a document between us and the ministry to cover the individual was also drawn up. But the uptake was very low. Aside from the allowance, the probability for the low uptake is that many feared the risks."

He stressed that the document with the ministry covers the individual, but doubts remained whether the first aider would be given the required support in the circumstances, when a parent tries and sues. That element of doubt always remained."

He spoke of the need for legislation to protect first aiders.

 

 


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